Tag Archives: Ranch

6-10 inches overnight at the ranch. E & I took Nora for a night walk in the storm and on our return the house looked storybook cozy.
I sat next to a Montana firefighter on a flight to Reno this fall, and described our big lovely pines by the house planted by my grandfather 75 years ago. She said they don’t pose a dire problem as the forests are up the hill and the corral and road make a good fire-brake.
It was in the 40s when we arrived, and we raked mountains of leaves from the yard, as the warm temps were fleeing in front of an arctic air mass. 10 degrees and less, with snow.
The storm breaks. Clear skies and no wind, so we head up top to walk the bluebird line along the county road. E has 6 frozen blue eggs of Bluebirds in her pocket from a nest too late in the season, and will add one more.
Mountain Bluebirds head to Mexico for the winter, but will return in March when it still looks about like this. This house is new this past summer, and spring will be its first occupancy. This bit of the ranch is delineated by imagining a line from the bottom L to top R.
This bird house marks the southern border of the ranch, on into the Little Belt Mountains.
Hawks are spinning up out of the forest, heading out to hunt on the blank wind-scoured highlands.
The forest runs out of cover, and the alpine highlands lead to the mountains.
Nora and E can hear “The Hum”, maybe it has something to do with the blurry shapes flying about that only the camera can see. Or there is frost on the camera lense.
Looking North across the winter moonscape of the alpine highlands, down and across to the Highwood mountains on the great plain of the Missouri river.
About 2/3 up the frame is all ranch land, the distant Highwoods seem to connect right into the alpine grassland.
Nora tells me how great her long legs and a long coat are. They just seem like a particular sort of fashion in town..


High meadows at twilight along the bluebird house route.

E and I drove up the ranch in the last week of July. We arrived a few days before Kaye and Walt flew out to Great Falls to join us. The cool nights and blustery days were a universe apart from the non-stop desert blast furnace of Utah in our bright shiny future of global catastrophe. I got right back to work on my water drainage project begun on our last trip out in June. That is, after chasing the cows out of the yard so I could run the push mower around for a day.


We arrive to a yard full of cows and calves. We chase them out of the yard and find the smashed wooden fence. We put up some old panel fence with giant zip ties my buddy Jed gave me when helping me install the Ibis sculpture back in Utah.


The old John Deer gets a new battery, oil and gas, tires inflated, and mouse-chewed wires fixed; dead starter motor: no go. It hasn’t run since my dad resurrected it nearly a decade ago, so no surprise, but worth a try.


The push mower bounces across the county road to the house from the garage, and this little guy falls out. E has me carry him back to the garage. I start the mower and his mom runs out, dislodging another little mouse. E saves it. I run a few passes with the mower and three more fall out. Two are fried by the engine, but one goes to the E mouse hospital.


The E mouse hospital (not to be confused with the EEEK IT’S A MOUSE! Hospital) is under the glove in the bed of purple columbine.


I rebuilt the door to the basement years ago, then added the steel covering in a following year. The hinge flap was tar& sand roofing material, and it had fallen apart with opening and closing the door. Water jets off of the roof exactly along this compromised seam and streams into the basement. I brought a remnant of thick pond liner to make a fix.


The liner is “glued” down with roofing tar, then screwed in place with gusseted roofing screws. We had a wash-out rainstorm that night and it all proved up nicely.


This drain was new last trip, but with a few wrong connections. Now Walt has is all set snug against the house, and drains perfectly into last visit’s ground drainage.


Down in the dank cellar, the cement between the old field-stone foundation needs some help with water intrusion. Skinning the problems with new concrete will only trap more water and lead to more problems, so I’m backfilling all the areas I can find with expanding foam. This should push far into the wall and seal most of the water out.



Nora adopts Walt, as no princess would ever head down into that dank dungeon, and would question her prior assessment of anyone who did.


This is one of two window casements from down in the hole, one on the southern wall ledge and one on the north. Both rotten and skinned with cardboard.


The view out the window casement is a wall of dirt and roots. That will need fixing…


Slacker relatives of old, your slipshod crapmanship is adorable.


Meanwhile, E has found the Cedar Waxwing nest- one lilac bush from last year’s spot- full of chicks.


Two loads of bricks dug with a pickaxe from the brick garden, going down the hole to patch the dirt-view window.


First I had to rebuild the field-stone wall. Well, first I had to prang my head hard enough to break the skin and make a small goose-egg on a big sewer end pipe not in frame. This bonk somehow made it impossible for me to mix the cement to a firm peanut-butter. I built up to the old-ish concrete footing poured around the house that dropped partly into the old window box. The window box on the other side of the basement is “completely” (?) backfilled with this mid-century concrete work.


Some mystery mineral came up on my shoes from the basement, and the house bees all converged on the door mat.


Kaye and Walt and E all roll into Great Falls for a grocery run, and I head back into the hole. I use a five gallon bucket to carry out 2,000 lbs of dirt that has washed in, and every knicknack buried in the dirt from every fix ever made, and so much more…


Once the basement is shoveled clear and raked clean, I lay down a heavy plastic over the dirt floor and weigh it down with brick and stone left over from the window casing fix.


I put a reflector on the invisible black tube, and to the right a reflector marks the shut off valve for the secondary water line through the basement that comes from a high pasture to power the yard hose and feed the corral trough. I need to replace the valve next trip, of course.


My new support from a few years back and an old support on a field stone.


The upper right at the corner held the old window casing. This is the uphill side of the house and a lot of water had swept a lot of dirt into this corner. We’ll look at some outside fixes later, that I hope will stop this mess from continuing. If it dries out, I’ll get to more concrete and brick work to seal it up good.


Not a dirt hole like the other side, but not without problems. Problems for another day (year).


I sneak the camera back along the ceiling for a remote view of some of the WTF going on up there. arg.


On the outside of the house, just above the basement problem area, a pair of garter snakes live behind a board that was nailed up against the house that rests on the concrete footing, a visual fix to the destructive gap between the concrete footing and the house: another fine bit of hair-pulling engineering. The board runs the length of the house and serves to funnel all moisture between it and the house. Also, directly above, two planes of the roof form a fast channel of water that oversweeps the gutter and has shattered the concrete and worn off the house paint.  This same overswept gutter does channel a lot of water, and until recently, channeled it through a broken drain pipe buried under the concrete patio that had long collapsed to erupt into the basement.


Our friendly housemate hunting at the creek that runs through the yard. I’ll need to remove his board, evicting him from the house- and I’ll have to take care not to kill him with the resulting process of sealing the bad gap behind the board that runs between the house and the concrete.


Ranch house and fence back in the 19th century with my great grandparents.

Kaye and Walt flew back to Kansas City (once the Great Falls airport had held them nearly overnight) and E & I got on to a day-long Feller project of replacing 80 feet of wooden rail fence around the front of the house. Fence that is essential to keeping livestock out of the yard during cattle drives as well as bovine fence crawlers ambling up and down the road all season long.


1998 painted fence with Alpine Meadows Angus sign I created in 1996. (I also trimmed the lilacs and hedge throughout the 1990’s, so they still looked spiffy and bloomed amazingly.)


June 2012.


2014 Walt and I put in new gate.


Gate is finished and matches L side built out in 2008 by my father and sister & I. The R side will get long split rail to match in anther year or so. Then split rail becomes a rarity.


Literally held together with string and wire, these old runs of hand-hewn timber were pulled from our forest nearly a century ago.


Panel fence is the quick solution to keeping livestock on the road and out of the yard- it all goes.


E & I salvaged 16′ runs of our old corral fence when the local supplier of split rail was out for the third year running.


This post leaned far out, so I dug out behind it, soaked it, and levered it back with a rock bar- still leaning out.


Webbing and a come-along fixed to the truck pull it into place.


Sawzall takes off a split end and fits to the run of posts.


Squeeze clamp puts hundreds of pounds of third-hand pressure while I set the board with heavy lag.


Staggering the top boards for the uphill climb.


Top rail is set all the way around, so on to the mid rail.


The yard’s Mountain Bluebird keeps an eye on my work. 


 Bluebird again.


New salvage fence wraps around the lilacs I’ve saved for the Cedar Waxwings.


5 new 16′ sections of salvage fence, with the last two sections retaining lower runs of hand-hewn lodgepole pine.


2008 Split rail; to 2014 gate of split rail; to 2015 section of split rail following the gate; to 2017 new salvage. The dorky bit by the gate is a No Hunting sign on a wood panel- should reconsider that placement now…


Iris Bed. Step 1: scything. Step 2: pickaxe. Step 3: Pulling railroad ties from field-pile / fence repair. Three dawn-’til-coffee mornings of prep.

As the title suggests our Iris splitting project in SLC became a multi-state issue that required a massive addition of garden space in both locations. This slope below the corral drops straight into the creek at the footbridge we rebuilt in June. It is usually a wall of weeds and grasses and towering wild carrot.


Corral is heading into the yard / Iris bed.

From inside the collapsing corral, prior to scything out the morass of weeds on the other side. Taking out the weeds turned out to be quite a bit bigger of a deal than I had planned…


Truck pulls the fence back upright, and the framing hammer solves problems that are actual nails.


Strapped back to standing with reject steps from the rebuilt footbridge.


Pressure clamp makes everyone behave.


Evening cool down, time to set the railroad ties. Pointing to where the ties need to go is all it takes. 


Walt, this is your Brace & Bit setup: the drill I harangued you about.


Shoulder pressure makes the Brace & Bit dive through the railroad tie.


To drive the rebar I had to fix the old sledge handle and wedge the head tight. I brought wedges from SLC to do just that. It all held together, as long as I didn’t miss and shatter the old handle.


I decide to expand the rr ties the next a.m.; some are rr ties, some are old cedar rail.


Putting in the first rows of Iris.


About 50 per row, so far. The hillside is made of dust this time of year.


We returned from cycling the tandem up the canyon as a smoke-storm rolled in.

We took the tandem up the canyon of the Little Belt River to the remote mining/ski town of Neihart. Earlier in the week the sun and wind had turned us around 1.5 steep miles short of Neihart, but we caught a nice cloudburst on the way down going fast enough that our backs didn’t get wet. This time we had a boosting tail-wind and made Neihart, the day had been hazy with smoke from Washington, and as we made it back to the ranch a closer fire somewhere near Missoula sent a harbinger of things to come.


The fire is about 300 miles to the west. The sun was a dull red orb.

Our forests have dried out with only skeletal remains on many southern facing slopes. Pine beetles have devastated many areas in the Little Belt range, and are beginning to eke their way into our forests.


Around 300 Iris in this plot, and we planted 120 in the yard as a high border to the creek under the willows.


7 varieties of Iris, originating from Wright Road, Ohio to Boulder, CO, to Overland Park, KS, to SLC,UT.

If the biggest and toughest dragon-toes of Iris can dig in, we may have a few blooms even next year; most likely it will be a year of recovery before blooming. Iris like well drained soil in full sun, but this spot is pretty tough.


Alpine Meadows brewing storm at dusk.

We headed up to Montana for a stint of workationing at the ranch. On one of our first evenings up we drove over the ridge to check the 20 Bluebird houses along the county road, and old Kibbey Ridge road. A storm gathered and boomed, socking in the mountains.


Finger of approaching storm over the ranch, with bluebird house in foreground.


Anniversary Bluebird trek begins here.

Last summer I made 6 B-bird houses and we set them up along the high hayfield. This past June one was knocked off by itchy cows, this time up we found another knocked off and most of them had been well rubbed. This old gal in the corral is at optimal survival height, and is older than I am.


E holds old nest of bbirds, and a hawk feather.

This is the last house of the anniversary trek. It was perfect, protected by a steep sidehill from the cows. We decided to move the entire group (save this one) up to the high inside run of fence of the hayfield- most too steep for the truck and so much too steep for cows.


A portion of the upper hayfield; baled.

The new placement for the birdhouses is along the ridgeline, along the skyline of the steep alpine meadow that borders the hayfield & bails.


Found scrap as rattlesnake; twisted rod, hoe, seed drill.

Walking back down to the house, we stopped off at the old rhubarb/raspberry patch. I brought a giant seed head of rhubarb back to the yard and placed it on the woodpile. A buzzing began at my feet, and as my brain reeled into snake mode and I two-stepped back- the rattlesnake at my feet had coiled up and ready to strike. It was happy with my quick retreat, but continued to coil and buzz its tail under a shelf of cedar post. So the rest of the day was spent mitigating snake habitat or snake-surprise areas.


Dave helps move the woodpile / look for the rattler.

Dave stops in with heavy welding gloves and a flat snake-shovel and helps me move the woodpile into the woodshed. No snake.


No snake, no woodpile.

The human brain is hard-wired to interpret any line or curve on the ground as a snake. Usually this lays dormant and unnoticed, but once primal survival instincts are primed they take precedence. So lots of downed Willow branches got double-takes, and our little group of yard-friendly Garter snakes elicited electrical flight response as they tumbled out from under bridges and swam across the stream or sunned on the foundation of the house.


Kibbey Ridge with gathering blue twilight storm and old bluebird house (on the fence line, not the old building out in the field…).


E spotted another downed b-bird house out in a meadow on Kibbey Ridge. It needs a roof and some tlc.

This fixer-upper joined the 6 new redwood houses up on the high hayfield, placed when we moved them all to the upper fence line- making 8 houses on the trek, starting with the mid-century unit at the corral.


Glad to be back in Montana, standing within the ranch looking toward the storm-obscured Little Belt mountains.

Back in Utah it was over 100 degrees all week. We left town as Antelope Island, out on the Great Salt Lake, burned with wildfire and filled the valley with smoke. Our return trip will take us alongside another fire 90 miles north of Salt Lake City, the smoke spilling south and mixing with the massive fires out in CA. more to come…


Day 1: We split Iris from the yard in SLC and made a new brick-lined bed by the ice house. The bed is lined with newspaper as an organic weed barrier, with a layer of mulch to hold the paper down. Rain blew in as I finished.

E and I head back up to the Montana ranch for 10 days of working vacation, and to celebrate our 6th Anniversary and E’s birthday. I’m splitting the trip into sections over the course of the next few days. This first bit covers days 1-3 at the ranch, not counting the day of driving and opening up the place. It is a 550 mile drive when we shift from interstate to blue highways in Montana at Dillon and come over the Little Belt Mountains via King’s Hill Pass.  A drive that just gets prettier from the Montana border on up.

Our first day and the cats (mostly Xandar) had mouse kill #1 laid out on the carpet by the foot of the bed. We had a repairman scheduled out for the morning to take a look at the old range, which has fritzed on us during our June visit. Our repairman was a great gent who has fixed every kind of everything in these old ranches. As usually occurs for him, the old Hotpoint ranges just decide to work fine as soon as he arrives. He took apart the key aspects to inspect them and everything was fine. He fixed a burner that had never in my memory worked, and we put in new 40 watt bulbs that the ranch had squirreled away (he doesn’t carry bulbs any more as the bouncy dirt roads vibrate the elements apart). He looked at our breaker box, and discerned that our ancient “breakerless” style breakerbox was the culprit- the range can draw 220 volts if running most burners and an oven, which pops the breaker, but also heats it up and it needs to cool down before resetting. With this in mind he headed down to the earthen basement to look at the water heater with me. I had put it in a year ago, an element had burned out, I had fixed it and it always popped the breaker- so we had thought it was broken and had gone without. The unit was fine, and my fix was solid- it was the same issue as the range. The water heater has two elements and when the tank is heating initially, both elements run pulling at 220. This will pop the breaker, and need some shepherding of the breaker ’til the tank reaches temperature and automatically shifts to one element. He knows an elderly Vietnam Veteran who lost an eye in the war who would love to tinker with our old wiring and set up a new system, but thinks the job might tire him out a bit much- it is the type of thing that doesn’t really need fixing ’til it really breaks and should work fine for us for our short visits for a long time. He said to never pull all the old wiring, as it is wonderful solid copper cable with a tar/cloth sheath, and is much better than modern strand.

The afternoon of day one was spent mowing the lawn, planting Iris we brought from our SLC yard in a new bed lined with brick along the old log Ice House, fixing the power relay box to the house out in the field where the cattle had rubbed it loose (as well as the welding socket box my father had installed and was dangling loose and filled with a Wren’s nest and Earwigs). I installed a new bathroom light with a pull-cord, as there is no switch and I had previously put in a switched fixture whose bulbs we screwed in and out as needed. We also rehung some pictures my sister had drawn as xmas presents in 1978, and some new ones- an oil portrait of my father as a boy “Lyle the cowboy dressed as Lyle the gunslinger” that I made at his bedside in hospice.


Blustery weather pushed us along with a nice tailwind for a few hundred miles- the next few days would see showers turn to a socked in day with temps in the high 40’s and 3″ of rain.

Day 2 began with removing mouse kill #2, displayed for our pleasure in the same manner by Xandar. I then moved a calf that had snuck all down through the corrals back toward the herd, and 5 feet from the open gate he launched himself into the fence and tore out a section just to be honery. After fixing the hole he made, it was on to clearing the stone paths of overgrowth, then clearing out all the wild carrot growing near the stream by the house that runs through the yard, taking the weed whacker apart to find where the jam was in the twine- twice (super hard use makes it testy), we took a stroll up to The Lookin’ Rock, brushed the burrs out of Stanley. Then I put my extender bed on the back of the truck and we headed out for the 80 mile round trip drive to town for all the trips groceries, and hardware at Home Depot, and ranchware of 16′ split rail and tongue & groove board and etc at North 40 (previously Big R). We were home around 8pm.


Day 2: I used the weed whacker to burr through the overgrowth on the stone pathways around the house, then blew out all the dirt and roots.


The wild carrot comes in thick by the creek.


Making a clear spot in the carrot.


Carrot is toppled- I went through 10′ of cutting twine to take it out.


Stanley blends with yard, both being freshly groomed.


At midday Elizabeth sees a bat fly from the willows and land on the ice house. He naps there most of the day.

Day Three is our 6th Anniversary, and I have made seven Bluebird houses for our celebratory day- we will set them in the evening, after an afternoon of fixing the old Bluebird houses along the county road that bisects the ranch. In the future we can walk up to the hayfield and check in on the nesting Bluebirds as a nice association. We spent the morning putting in a new flower bed between the house and the footpath along the South wall, filled with more Iris from our SLC garden. At noon we started our triage of old bluebird houses and finished at 7pm, had a dinner break, and head out again at 9pm to set our anniversary houses.


D3: Blue Bird house triage begins with a burned out old fixer-upper at the corral.


The pole holding the birdhouse only stands because it is wired to the pole next to it that the gate swings from. The old corral is in as rough shape as the birdhouse. I set new wire for the pole and empty the birdhouse of sparrow nests.


The sparrows have pecked a larger entrance, ensuring that no Bluebirds can safely nest.


I picked up this 1.5″ bit in town the day before, it is big enough for Bluebirds and too small for Sparrows- the thicker hardwood makes a tougher facing and a deeper / safer passage. The multi-tool battery is tapped out and put on the charger, just the spare now…


New front door fit just for Bluebirds, plus a few wood screws and liquid nails. House #1 of what will be 11 triaged houses that afternoon.


The county road birdhouses have gone unkempt for a number of years. This one had Bluebirds nesting in it in June, with 7 eggs. I had found the lid and replaced it with the old wire, but it has come off again.


Three layers of nests or more, and that nail is more breaking the house in half than holding it up.


I have my little traveling workbench strapped to the truck, and the bed is full of tools and triage lumber. Don’t worry little birdhouse; the doctor is in.


House #2 (18C) is repaired.


This house had a bluebird nest with six eggs in June.


The nests are stacked so high they are level with the entrance hole.


Among the layers are a nest full of abandoned Bluebird eggs, and a bullet.


House #3 (37A).

IMG_0067 - Version 2

House #3 again, with the bullet glued into the filled bullet hole at the lower right corner.


House #4 is the roughest of them all. It has no parts laying about in the field.


We’ll come back to this later…


House #5 seems just roofless from this side, but the other side isn’t there at all.


I find the missing roof and side in the field.


This one is made of plywood, which has lost most of its “ply”.


I’m on my second of 2 batteries, and am trying for minimal triage. This results in a compromise fix (including whittlin’) that looks a bit silly, but handles a few problems at once.


E takes in the scenery while triage continues.


More scenery means more triage.


It is a solution, not necessarily the best solution, but a solution nonetheless. House #5 (22).


House #6 needs a backfill of nests removed, but is in good shape.


House #7 has been used roughly by larger birds, and is long abandonded.


I find the roof in the grasses nearby, and make a new front door spec’d just for Bluebirds.


House #7 (39).


House #8 is loose and the batteries are nearly spent.


E spots a Catydid as I come up with a triage solution.


In-situ fix with glue, clamps, and nails.


House #8 (12/A)


House #9 is on a low pole, down from the road and in high grass. It looks solid, but I have a feeling it is not happy.


See the mouse nose in the upper corner? When I rapped on the box with a hammer, mice swarmed everywhere. I removed it from the pole and tossed it spinning, and mice flew in every direction.


E and I identified a new pole up out of the hole.


House #9 (35). Probably should have hung it higher up from the cross beams to keep scampering critters at bay. We’ll see how it goes.


On the other side of the county road, on the steep backside of the little pass, we spotted this ancient house.


House #10. Just needed old nests removed.


House #11 is made by the same design as #10, but in rough shape.


The ancient boards had split apart, but it was still upright.


Gentle and firm, with clamps & glue, soft tapping in of nails, and a few new screws by hand.


Pushing glue into tired old seams.


These old gals are hung with wire- and she is ready for new wire.


House #11.


Our morning project was creating this new Iris bed along stone path on the S wall of the house.


Remember house #4? It sits at the Southern border of our land, and is just an idea of a house now.


I remove the old remains and put up an entirely new house.


This is the only one I made of this design with a hinged top- similar to the removable-top triaged units of the day. It is formed of thick redwood with cedar roofing, and has the Alpine Meadows brand on its face with my dangerhart brand on the side.


We started on the houses at noon, and it is now 7pm- we headed back up with a recharged battery to set this house before dinner.


When driving over the little pass, this new little house marks the beginning of Alpine Meadows.


This old pole stands in the pasturage behind the barn and adjacent to the horse pasture. Wrens have nested in the woodpecker hole, but the hole is full up and abandoned.


House 1 of 6 along the hay-meadow scenic walk- like a trail marker at the bottom of the valley. 9pm twilight and looking to rain.


Full of Wren nests, the old hole and the new house.


Site for house number 2 along the high hay field.


BBHouse #2


Site #3.


BB House #3, and virga is dropping to the ridgeline.


Site #4.


BB House #4, and we are heading into the storm. The rain rolls in with the night as I set up #4, #5, & #6. It feels like the same blustery rain that dotted our wedding vows six years ago, and we smooch in the rain to seal the day.


We arrived with the first warm weather (i.e. not snowing and freezing at night). The lilacs are still weeks away from bloom.


What’s wrong with this picture? Why is the toilet tank lid on the table? Where is the faucet for the sink? Why is there cardboard on the floor? Answer: I hired a plumber who converted everything to PEX pipe, and in doing so demonstrated the ranch law of unintended reciprocal breakage of critical items for any improvement.


Essential Man Pow-Wow with Bow-Wow. Plumber is gone and toilet is still dead (not my job). A feller could head to town and rent an industrial snake. So a feller did.


Bath is taken apart again, and beat with a snake till the walls need repainting and the floor needs refished; in the end the line was cleared 30 feet out into the yard.


Floor is sanded, room is vacumed and wiped down, walls repainted, then floor urethaned, sanded and re-urethaned. This all means staying friendly with the shovel and the hills behind the house for another day.


The Roto-saurus left whip marks on the walls as it would uncoil explosively back into the room. I had to re-thread the bolts for toilet flange after bending them back upright.


I ran hot water in the tub to help lube the system, and discovered that the head pressure for the heater is less than its drop pressure. This resulted in solving the mystery of why the tank’s heating element burns out so often. The solution has been discovered by an old Mr. Fixit working in the Great Falls ACE Hardware. It will be a science project.


The shop-vac and the orbital palm sander were from the same long ago art commission. The shop-vac is still kicking, but the orbital sander died in the line of duty. I pulled my old square sander out of retirement (luckily some of my out-to-pasture tools have made it to the ranch) and it did its best. Operating an old tool which is half the tool of a tool that dies in service can make a fellah feel old.


The battle of the commode was hard fought, and settling the environmental damage is part of the battle.


That can of Kilz has traveled 1800 miles to be a part of the triage.


A great battle was fought on this field. Danger takes a quiet moment of reflection on this Memorial Day weekend.


A fitting headstone for the rotosaurus, and a sign that visits to the hills bearing a lone shovel will be no longer.


Xandar claims the only quiet (and finished) room in the house. Plus, it has a heater.


Elizabeth and I tag-team on lawn mowing, finishing just in time for thunder and rain.


Stanley oversees the connection of the old stone footpath to the bridge.


Stanley, as foreman, is not as easily pleased as the laborer.


The new stones found their way from hillside washes into the pickup on the way up the road from returning the Roto-saurus.


This little job was a nice break from the frustrations of push-back from the cranky old house.




Under the fridge and the stove still needed a first layer of sealant, and 17 holes to nowhere filled under the stove ( four holes for the fridge).


Fridge footprint.


Four dowels to fill holes near the fridge.


Oven footprint covering 17 holes.


Holes doweled with glue and hammered or cut to flush with the floor.


Living room. Torn wood from last summer’s floor sanding needs wood filler. Store only has light colors, so after filling and sanding it will all need staining.


The orbital sander will finally die on this battle field.


You can’t try to be the World Police for all the issues of the floor, so Strategery is applied. Some conflicted areas can seem a proper place for your resources, but really any intervention there will only lead to greater conflict.


Minutaie v the long view.


Aftermath of sanding. The orbital sander is still with us, the shop vac is essential too.


Stain application for wood filler, as well as places the big floor sander wore down to bright wood.



Elizabeth sent me to bed and stayed up til 3am scrubbing with denatured alcohol and steel wool to remove the pervasive layer of blackened old finish. She lamented her hands, now turned to crone claws.


The room is vast and E is very very tiny. But persistent.


Do I look fat in these pants?


Danger struggles to mouth read a big word: Carcinogenic.


Zillions of hours of prep work is finished, starting way back last summer; battle gear is donned. Time to end it with a new beginning.


Stanley guards Xandar outside where things are safe for critters.


E assists by keeping the finish at my elbow and picking last minute specks from the floor.


Next time we come up we’ll have to deal with the footprint of the couch. never. quite. done.


The orbital sander died before prepping the kitchen, so it was up the retired square-sander to prep for this second thick layer.


I hope we didn’t forget anything in there…it takes 14 days to cure.


This may be better than having the house fumigated. Can you see the fumes?


Part of turning off the water is draining the line with hose that reaches far enough down the hill to siphon out the water tank.


Electricity is shut off, and water is off. Headlamp is on for the last trip into the basement.


Elizabeth takes this shot while contemplating shutting the door and rolling something heavy over it. Just a flash of an idea I’m sure…


Truck is loaded and ready to become slathered in 600 miles of insect splatter.


The rest is dedicated to our pretty yard in Salt Lake City, looking bright and cheerful the morning after getting home oh so late.